Towards a RE(DE)FINERY model for Green Chemicals, Fuels and Energy
Jan van Breugel (Corbion/BBI, NL), Erick Fernandes (Worldbank, USA), Gustavo Valença Paim (UNICAMP, BR), Adrie Straathof (TU Delft, NL) and Luuk van der Wielen (BE-Basic and TU Delft, NL)
Biobased production of chemicals, fuels and energy –when done right- can make significant positive contributions to abating emissions and other climate impacts often associated to fossil alternatives, to food security and poverty, can provide (impact) investment alternatives, and overall facilitate sustainable development (SCOPE, 2015). Key requirements are robust financial feasibility, also in case of unfavourable economic environments such as in case of (todays) low prices of fossil alternatives, and (near) complete utilisation of the feedstock to avoid wastes and emissions. With the first lignocellulosic biorefineries (for ethanol) coming on line, and technological maturity is emerging, it is high time to investigate how they blend in (or disrupt) a landscape of chemicals and fuels industry that is predominantly organised in port-industry clusters (Rotterdam, Singapore, Houston, Sjanghai, others) worldwide, that are connected to networks of downstream industries (packaging, coating, car, others).
The biobased opportunity requires a redefinition of the refinery concept – the REDEFINERY-, to the characteristics of biobased and other renewable feedstocks to allow as much as possible full utilisation of all bio-mass of the feedstock, and not only its energy content as is the case in current biofuels plants. This is particularly important for products that have no alternatives such as chemicals, materials and liquid fuels for aviation, marine and long-distance/heavy duty applications.
During the presentation, we will discuss
- overall yield and efficiency requirements, how specific technology/feedstock /product combinations contribute to these objectives and how new applications and technologies open new opportunities such as bioconcrete and other materials. Attractive and current examples will be presented, in the framework of a rough innovation roadmap .
- We also discuss how and which REDEFINERY structures also financially enable the robust large scale development of a biobased economy. This also deals with establishing specific (intermediate) platforms that can be converted efficiently into a wide range of chemical and fuel products.
- A last item is the role of logistics. Since biobased feedstocks need to be collected from large areas, the infrastructural requirements are fairly different from those of the fossil industry where extraction is in general from a single or a few wells, or from the agro-food/feed industry that has already some large scale food-oriented processing complexes operational.
All of this should be seen in the framework of the local opportunities that regional implementation provides. These are different in the Brazilian, and e.g. the European context, allowing specific and differential developments. Although this is work-in-progress, we plan to discuss some thoughts for further discussion.
 Downloadable report (open access): http://bioenfapesp.org/scopebioenergy/index.php/chapters
See more of this Group/Topical: Topical 2: Innovations in Process Research and Development